Activity: SFL for Elementary classes (simple dialogues)

Here is an activity I did with some Junior High School students using simple dialogues to highlight register choices of field, tenor and mode, and the three metafunctions of Ideational, Interpersonal and Textual meanings. The dialogues are people looking for lost items around a house and could also be easily adapted for elementary adult learners.

First, we reviewed some of the Ideational choices of Circumstantial Participants in Relational clauses with a simple picture dictionary game of rooms in a house. The teacher asks “Where is x?” and the first student to raise their hand and answer correctly (“On the table.”) gets a point. Then we can place these within the context of a dialogue.

To highlight register choices the students are shown three pictures featuring two people looking for items around a house. The teacher could ask questions such as “Where are they/What is it” (field), “Who are they/How old” (tenor) and “What are they doing” (mode). The students then listen to the dialogues and match them to the pictures. The dialogues are:

Dialogue 1:
A: Where is my hat? (said in a slightly angry voice)
B: It’s in the cupboard.

Dialogue 2:
A: Where are my keys? (exasperated)
B: They’re on the table. (‘Not again’ tone of voice)

Dialogue 3:
A: Where’s my purse? (angry, impatient)
B: It’s under the sofa.

To highlight Ideational choices, students are given a piece of paper with the following printed:

Dialogue 1:
A: W                     i        m                 h                     ?
B: I`      i                      t                c                           .

The students must listen again and complete the missing words. Repeat for all three dialogues.

To highlight Interpersonal meanings, students listen again and draw intonation patterns over the dialogues they have just written and note that all of them have a low pitch reflecting the tenor values (Dialogue 1-low falling; Dialogue 2-low even; Dialogue 3-low rising/falling).

To highlight Textual choices of given-new, the students listen again and mark which words are stressed and how these also relate to tenor choices:

Dialogue 1: hat – table (medium stress)
Dialogue 2: Where – table (low stress)
Dialogue 3: Where – purse – under – sofa (high stress)

The students can then practise the dialogues in pairs.

I think this type of simple activity using short dialogues is useful as the students listen to each dialogue multiple times but each time they are listening for something different so it doesn’t become repetitive.

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